Monthly Archives: November 2016

North Carolina May Finally Have An Election Result

Sitting governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) refused to concede the election for NC governor, which ended three weeks ago.  By the end of election day, current NC attorney general and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper was ahead by a little over 6,000.  But the results still had to be counted and certified, down to the last one.

If Cooper’s margin remained below 10,000 votes, McCrory could have called for a statewide recount, and with the possibility of other legal challenges and conceivably even legislative intervention to decide a contested result.

But today, as I am writing this, Roy Cooper’s margin of victory has now grown to over 10,000 reaching 10,329 in the latest count.

Governor McCrory’s election protests and allegations of voter fraud have been rejected by Republican-controlled board of elections, and Roy Cooper’s lead is now over 10,000 votes.

Will McCrory concede?

He may not have a choice anymore.

The OGE Is Trolling Trump

The Office of Government Ethics, which is responsible for ensuring executive branch personnel don’t run afoul of conflict of interest laws, has been pressuring Trump to place his fortune in a blind trust, like virtually every president before him. But Trump has thus far refused — and in his Wednesday tweetstorm, he purposefully did not say he plans on actually divesting from his own company.

That omission was not lost on whomever manages the OGE’s official Twitter account. Shortly after Trump’s announcement, the OGE shot off a series of tweets mock-congratulating Trump for putting his conflicts of interest to rest by divesting from his company, which Trump very much did not do.

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It is a little unusual for a government agency to troll a president-elect, and I suspect that the tweets will be pulled (which is why I screen capped them).  But still, gone on whoever is doing it!

UPDATE:

The Best Second Draft — And Possibly The Final Draft — Of Election 2016

David Roberts at Vox goes deep into the numbers, the graphs, and what everybody says about why Clinton lost and Trump won.  And he concludes…..

Turns out everything mattered

The most agonizing implication of the narrow loss is that everything mattered.

Every decision to hype Clinton’s emails. Comey’s extraordinary violation of precedent. WikiLeaks. Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches. Her refusal to dissociate from the Clinton Foundation. Her poor retail politics. Trump not releasing his tax returns. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan hiding out. Sanders tarnishing Clinton’s image among young people. Institutions standing by and doing nothing as Trump shredded democratic norms. The gamble that Trump’s misogyny and racism would render him unacceptable.

Fake news on Facebook. Epistemological bubbles. Elite self-absorption. Hot take after hot take delivered to the choir. Americans making the contest into a crass reality TV show fueled by Facebook memes. The press refusing to cover policy.

And whatever else you can name. The Electoral College turned on a 107,000-vote margin. All of it mattered. If you’re prone to haunting, crippling regret (luckily I don’t know anyone like that), that’s where you should focus your energy.

Yeah. Probably correct.

But that’s just one bit of one very long and entertaining article.  A must read for professional and amateur political scientists.

Trump Is Setting Up An Economic Boom For Him And His Friends

So this morning, we get this set of tweets from the President-Elect:

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This is, on its face, the first time, that Trump has acknowledged the appearance of a conflict of interest.  And that’s something.

But what is he going to be doing?  I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Leaving his ownership stake to his children will hardly distance the president from his business interests, and would not satisfy the conflict of interest laws that govern the conduct of other elected officials. (Senators, for example, are forbidden from introducing or passing legislation that would further an immediate family member’s financial interest.)

Foreign governments will still take heed of the leverage that surrounds any dealings with Trump-brand properties and their co-investors; lobbyists and business leaders will know what credit accrues to playing on a Trump course or staying at a Trump hotel. This will be especially true if the Trump children continue to play their outsized role in diplomatic meetings.

And, finally, the president himself will never be “blind” to his own interests. After all, they consist mostly of fixed assets stamped with his name.

Meanwhile, we’ve got some more additions to the cabinet:

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Yeah. President-elect Donald Trump named Wall Street veteran Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary Wednesday, filling key slots on his economic team even as he announced plans to leave his businesses to avoid any conflict of interest. Mnuchin and billionaire Wilbur Ross were asked in a television interview with CNBC if they could confirm reports they had been named to lead the US Treasury and Commerce departments, respectively. Mnuchin, 53, is a former Goldman Sachs partner who was Trump’s campaign chairman and Ross is an investor who has made billions turning around distressed companies.

If you’re concerned even a little about income inequality, this is a gloomy day.  Corporate tax breaks, tax breaks for the wealthy, and even trickle down economics.

What’s the first action any new Treasury secretary should take when coming into a situation were cash-rich corporations are raking it in and pocketing the results while automation and wage-stagnation leaves workers behind? You guessed it.

“By cutting corporate taxes, we’re going to create huge economic growth and we’ll have huge personal income,” Mnuchin told “Squawk Box,” confirming he has been tapped for Treasury secretary.

Wilbur Ross is known as “the king of bankruptcy.”

Ross is a businessman in the mold of Trump himself. Known as a sharp negotiator, Ross became wealthy by spotting opportunity in purchasing bankrupt companies in declining industries such as steel, including LTV Corp. in Ohio and Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania. He is known for doing the same with failing mining company Horizon Natural Resources, restructuring it and selling it to Arch Coal in 2011 for $3.4 billion. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, he invested $1.8 billion in faltering banks, from Florida’s BankUnited to several European banks.

And Ricketts?  Depuity Commerce Secretary.  Cubs Owner.

These are rich guys, but not necessarily guys who understand the economy from a country standpoint.

So much for draining the swamp.

UPDATE:  He’s looking at ANOTHER guy from Goldman Sachs:

President-elect Donald Trump is considering Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn for a senior administration job, possibly as director of the Office of Management and Budget, several sources close to the situation said on Wednesday.

People familiar with the matter say Cohn’s meeting with Trump on Tuesday included talks about a potential job in the new administration, possibly to run OMB, a sprawling office that will handle much of Trump’s budget policy after he takes office in January…

People close to Cohn, an aggressive and imposing trading veteran, note that he has a reputation for attracting and managing top talent, a key attribute for any OMB chief.

What Digby Says, Part MCLVII

On Trump and Trump supporters being “sore winners”:

An incident in Brooklyn this past weekend illustrates the phenomenon. Two women in a restaurant were bemoaning the election of Donald Trump when a man and his wife sat down next to them and became incensed about what the two women were saying. The manager moved the couple to a different table and gave a meal without charge to calm the two down. But after leaving the restaurant the man stormed back in and punched one of the women in the face. He told the manager he wanted to kill her. (Fortunately, the woman was not seriously injured.)

This is just one random incident but it raises the question: Who gets that mad after winning? It’s not as if the two women were rubbing the man’s nose in defeat. Why would something so ordinary as complaining about the election cause a man to hit a stranger (a woman) in the face?

In fact, America has been divided along two moving tribal lines for a very long time, and this odd reaction has happened before when this political faction has come to power, although it doesn’t normally get this violent or ugly. The political right often seems to take little joy in its victories, instead remaining focused on its defeated enemies. Compromise is unacceptable: Right-wingers seem to demand total capitulation and when their adversaries continue to resist, they are enraged.
The best description of this phenomenon comes from Abraham Lincoln in his famous address at New York’s Cooper Union in 1860. Trying to explain how impossible it was to deal with the Southern slave states using normal democratic means, he asked, “What will it take to satisfy them?”
This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly — done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated — we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.
This is why the right-wingers are so angry. It’s not enough for them to win. Those who opposed Trump must stop opposing him. We must agree that Muslims should be banned from entering the country, agree we should torture and kill suspected terrorists and their families, agree immigrants should be rounded up and deported, agree there should be guns in schools, agree women should be punished for having abortions and agree to all the rest of it. Until we stop resisting completely and declare that we are “avowedly with them,” they will continue to believe that “all their troubles proceed from us.”
That is not going to happen. Trump’s forces may have won the election but they have not won the hearts and minds of the American people who didn’t vote for him. And they won’t. This administration will be met with fierce resistance from millions of people, from the moment Trump takes office until the day he leaves. There will be no appeasing him, and no easing of his followers’ guilt for what many of them know in their hearts to be ugly and cruel impulses in consenting to this white nationalist program. It’s all on them.
Lincoln had this to say to his fellow Unionists about how to proceed in a situation such as this:
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
What else can we do?

Trump’s Newest Odd Tweet

I don’t know.  Maybe it was Castro’s death, and Trump missed being in the headlines.  But for whatever reason, he tweeted this:

This is extremely bizarre.  Is he really stinging from losing the popular vote?  Apparently.  Does he really believe that millions of people voted illegally (it is largely believed that Trump’s “source” is an Infowars tweet making the same claim)?  Apparently.

That’s just scary.

Maybe Trump was trying to protect HIS legitimacy as a “winner”, or maybe he is nervous about recounts.  But what he did was undermine faith in the election process — a process that benefited him!!  As I have said, “Well, if that is how the President-elect feels, lets recount and audit the whole thing!!”

The upcoming fact-free Trump presidency is going to be distressing.

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“I’m sorry, Jeannie, your answer was correct, but Kevin shouted his incorrect answer over yours, so he gets the points.”

She Seems Nice

Trump voter going on a tirade

This incident is the just the latest in a recent spate of obscene and racist tirades by Trump supporters. Last week a Trump fan abused black employees of a Miami Starbucks and over the weekend a viral video showed a Delta Airlines passenger screaming about “Hillary bitches.” Yesterday Delta apologized for not removing the man. Also this weekend a Colorado home supply store fired its manager for calling a customer a “faggot who voted for Hillary.”

McCrory v. Cooper

While the nation mourns the win of Donald Trump, here in North Carolina, we have our own little Bush v. Gore drama going on.  Except…. not really, because it isn’t as close as Bush v. Gore was.  We actually have a governor who is willing to cheat the results in order to win.  On election day, the results has Cooper ahead by 5,000.  McCrory has refused to concede, even as absentee and provisional vote tallies show the margin against him widening.

Civitas, the Art Pope-funded think tank, as filed suit in federal court to delay final certification of results while the state verifies the addresses of over 90,000 same-day registrants.

McCrory’s team, meanwhile, is alleging widespread voting irregularities:

Rather than throwing in the towel, McCrory is instead throwing around wild and unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud across the state. The governor is claiming that results in half of North Carolina’s 100 counties were tainted by irregularities, but some of those claims have already been dismissed by county election boards. The result is close enough to trigger a recount, which McCrory officially requested today, but past recounts in close North Carolina elections have not produced any significant changes in vote tallies.

Nonetheless, McCrory’s team is accusing Cooper of winning by illicit means and trying to cover up evidence of a supposedly fraudulent victory. “Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons?” one McCrory flack said in a statement. “It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win.”

Salon’s Simon Malloy notes that in the same election, Donald Trump won North Carolina by 4 points and Republican Sen. Richard Burr won reelection by 6 points. Being “champion of the country’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ law” had nothing to do with McCrory’s loss, of course. But if Roy Cooper’s team somehow managed to manipulate results to take out McCrory alone, now that’s some targeting. I’d want to hire them.

McCroy’s end game, rumor has it, may be to sow enough doubt long enough to create a legitimacy crisis that would trigger the involvement of the GOP-controlled legislature in settling the election. The News and Observer says it’s not that simple:

Yes, N.C. lawmakers can declare a winner, a power given to them both by the N.C. Constitution, which says the General Assembly can settle “contested” state races, but also a 2005 law cited by the New York Times and Slate that says losers in Council of State races can appeal the results to the legislature.

[…]

As for whether such a decision now could be reviewed by courts, here’s what that 2005 N.C. statute actually says: “The decision of the General Assembly in determining the contest of the election pursuant to this section may not be reviewed by the General Court of Justice.” According to the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, the “General Court of Justice” is the entire N.C. court system, which includes Appellate, Superior and District courts.

That wouldn’t stop the federal courts from jumping in, says Rick Hasen (Election Law Blog):

If there is clear evidence both that Roy Cooper got more votes in North Carolina, with no plausible basis to claim that fraud infected the result (and by all indications so far, both of these facts are true), it could well be both a Due Process and Equal Protection Clause violation for the North Carolina legislature on a partisan basis to consider a “contest” and overturn the results and hand them to Pat McCrory. There are cases where federal courts have gotten involved in these kinds of ugly election disputes (think Roe v. Alabama, Bush v. Gore). But a brazen power grab without a plausible basis for overturning the results of a democratically conducted election? I expect the federal courts would take a very close look at such a thing.

This looks like it might take a while.

Should Hillary Challenge?

My thought has always been “no” on this question.  No chance. No evidence.  And she would look like a sore loser.

This, however, gave me pause:(CNN)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is being urged by a number of top computer scientists to call for a recount of vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a source with knowledge of the request.

The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday.

The scientists, among them J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, told the Clinton campaign they believe there is a questionable trend of Clinton performing worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners, according to the source.

Whoa.

The Last Last Word On Election 2016 And Why Hillary Lost

Kevin Drum nails it:

So what did cause Hillary Clinton’s loss? This is all still tentative, but as I’ve read more preliminary analysis of county-level returns, I’d say it was three things. Two of them are probably going to piss you off:1

Millennials. This one is pretty clear cut. Relative to 2012, Hillary Clinton did worse among millennials by a considerable amount. They turned out to vote in their usual numbers, but a lot of them abandoned Clinton for third-party candidates. All told, I’d say this cost Clinton about 5 percent of the millennial vote, which amounts to 1-2 percent of the total vote. Trump, meanwhile, did as well with millennials as Romney did in 2012.

Why? I realize we’re all supposed to move on from this, but I blame Bernie Sanders. He started out fine, but after his campaign took off and he realized he could actually win this thing, he turned harshly negative. Over and over, his audience of passionate millennials heard him trash Clinton as a corrupt, warmongering, corporate shill. After he lost, he endorsed Clinton only slowly and grudgingly, and by the time he started campaigning for her with any enthusiasm, it was too late. I understand that Bernie fans want to deny this obvious reality, but honestly, is it any wonder that Clinton lost a big chunk of the millennial vote?

James Comey. An awful lot of people claim that Democracts are kidding themselves if they blame their loss on Comey instead of their systemic problems. I couldn’t agree less. The Trump campaign thinks Comey made a difference. The Clinton campaign thinks Comey made a difference. The pre-election polls suggest Comey made a difference. The bulk of the evidence suggests it cost Hillary Clinton about 2 percent of the total vote.

Why dwell on this? Because it matters whether Clinton’s loss was truly due to problems with either the Democratic agenda or problems with Clinton herself. If, instead, Comey was the difference between winning and losing, then all the circular firing squads are squabbling over flaws that doesn’t really exist. If Comey had kept his mouth shut and Clinton had won the popular vote by 3.5 percent, she’d be president-elect and we wouldn’t even be talking about all the rest of this stuff.

The working class divide. Note that I said working class, not white working class. Here’s some data for you. Among the white working class,2 Hillary Clinton lost 14 points of support compared to 2012. Among the black and Latino working class, she lost 8 points of support.3 Altogether, this cost her about 6 percent of the total vote.

Among white college grads, Clinton gained about 10 points of support. Among black and Latino college grads, she lost about 2 points. Altogether, this gained her about 4 points of the total vote.

The net loss here is about 2 points of the total vote. It’s true that among the working class Clinton lost more among whites than nonwhites, but she lost big among all races. This strongly suggests that the working class was primarily motivated by economic concerns and only secondarily by racial issues. This is the opposite of what I thought during the campaign, but I was wrong.

There are other things that probably made a difference. The press obsession with Clinton’s emails was one. The mediocre economic environment was another. Clinton’s surprisingly poor showing among unmarried men is yet another. And we can add to this some questionable campaign decisions by the Clinton team. But remember: despite all this, Clinton won the popular vote by about 1.5 percentage points. Neither she nor her agenda were roundly rejected by America.

In the end, then, I basically put the onus for Clinton’s defeat on bitter Bernie, crooked Comey, and the wounded working class. They turned a landslide into a close win, which the Electoral College then turned into a defeat. For what it’s worth, I also blame our country’s apparent indifference toward racism and sexism. I’m not sure that either one of them drove a large number of votes, but there’s no question that a big chunk of America looked at a voraciously racist and misogynistic campaign from Donald Trump and decided to shrug it off. It just wasn’t important to them. That’s as disheartening as anything else that happened this year.

1Some of you anyway. Honestly, it’s not deliberate on my part. As best I can tell, this is just what the data tells us.

2There’s no universally accepted definition of working class. For our purposes, it’s anyone without a college degree.

3The white working class is much larger than the nonwhite working class, so this translates into far more raw votes lost due to white working class defections. However, the actual strength of the defections was surprisingly close among all races and ethnic groups.

Photo Op

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Hey!  Look!  It’s President-Elect Donald Trump!  And who is with him?  Why, that’s Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  This was yesterday as they were meeting at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster NJ.

I wonder what that was all about. Kris Kobach is a central figure in the nativist movement and the architect of Arizona’s notorious “papers please” law.

Oh wait.  What’s our boy Kris holding?

Can we zoom in on that?

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Closer?  Turn 90 degrees clock– uh, can you sharpen that up a ,little?

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Huh.

Looks like some kind of plan…..

The document is arranged in a numbered format. The first point reads, “Bar the Entry of Potential Terrorists.”

The document calls for updating and reintroducing the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. The program was implemented in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but largely suspended in 2011.

“All aliens from high-risk areas are tracked,” the document reads.

The document then calls for “extreme vetting questions” for “high-risk aliens”; echoing Trump’s campaign rhetoric. High-risk aliens would be questioned about support for Sharia law (Islamic religious law), jihad, the equality of men and women and the U.S. Constitution.

The document also asks for reducing the intake of Syrian refugees to zero.

The rest of the page is either partially or totally obscured by Kobach’s hand and arm. When the photograph was taken, Kobach was standing outside with Trump – it is highly unlikely Kobach wasn’t aware he was being photographed.

The document contains obscured references to the arrest and removal of illegal aliens, “386 miles of existing actual wall,” the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act, and voter rolls. “Draft amendments to National Voter —” can also be seen, perhaps a reference to the National Voter Registration Act.

Good to know.

Does Korematsu Provide Precedent For A Muslim Registry?

No.

No, it doesn’t.  Not even a close call.

Let’s just all get on the same page.

This is happening:

And the obvious question is…. would it be constitutional for the government to require citizens to register based on their religion?

The OBVIOUS answer should be NO, and the reason most people instinctively know it would be unconstitutional is to do a thought experiment: substitute “Christian” for “Muslim” and see how that flies.

I’m going to set aside the obvious invidiousness of the proposed registry, as well as the obvious difficulties in enforcing registration.  Instead, I’m just going to focus on Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), the case that Trump surrogates are citing as “precedent”.

Korematsu was the case involving Japanese-American internment during World War II.  Roosevelt ordered that George Takei and his family and other Japanese-Americans leave their jobs, friends, businesses, etc. and report to “camps” for the duration of the war.  These were American citizens, living on the West Coast, of Japanese descent.  It came about as the result of a presidential executive order — Executive Order No. 9066 to be exact.

Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California, in 1919, the third of four sons to Japanese parents Kotsui Aoki and Kakusaburo Korematsu who immigrated to the United States in 1905.  When the internment order came down, he refused to comply and went into hiding in the Oakland area. He was arrested on a street corner in San Leandro on May 30, 1942, after being recognized as a “Jap”.  He was tried and convicted of violation of a military order – specifically, the military order for internment given under the authority of Executive Order 9066.

That military and executive orders were challenged and the US Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans, with three dissents.

Korematsu is still good law, so I revisited it. Why did the Supreme Court find such an order to be constitutionally valid?

One reason was precedent.  One year earlier, in a case called Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld a curfew which applied only to the Japanese.

But addressing the race issue, the majority wrote only this:

It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers — and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies — we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that, at that time, these actions were unjustified.

Basically, they are saying — “we’re at war”.

The dissent by Justice Roberts was having none of it:

This is not a case of keeping people off the streets at night, as was Hirabayashi v. United States,320 U. S. 81, nor a case of temporary exclusion of a citizen from an area for his own safety or that of the community, nor a case of offering him an opportunity to go temporarily out of an area where his presence might cause danger to himself or to his fellows. On the contrary, it is the case of convicting a citizen as a punishment for not submitting to imprisonment in a concentration camp, based on his ancestry, and solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. If this be a correct statement of the facts disclosed by this record, and facts of which we take judicial notice, I need hardly labor the conclusion that Constitutional rights have been violated.

And that is essentially the difference.  We’re not at war with the Muslims — there has been no declaration of Congress to that effect.  Furthermore, there is no “military urgency” now like there was following the bombing of Pearl Harbor (it is more than 15 years after 9/11).  Two good reasons right there.

Then you have something that you didn’t have in Korematsu, which was a case about heritage.  The proposed Muslim ban isn’t about heritage; it is about religion.  “Muslim”, after all, simply means an adherent to the religion of Islam.  Islam knows no national origin or skin color.  Cassius Clay, a black American, didn’t come from another country.  Yet he was a Muslim (which he became Muhammad Ali).

So if this is registry of religious beliefs, — welcome First Amendment.

There’s simply on way in hell this Supreme Court would be cool with registering Muslims.  It would be unanimously shot down, even without overturning Korematsu.

In fact, that would be a nice way to start the Trump presidency.  With a 8-0 loss in the Supreme Court.

Scenes From New Zealand

New Zealand got hit by a devastating 7.8M earthquake earlier this week and has had about 300+ aftershocks, some of them quite strong.  Here are some scenes:

Stranded cows:

A Week Out And I’m Burnt Out By The Freakout

One week ago today, Donald J Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.

Jesus, help me.  Help us all.

The reaction from the left — and the center, frankly — has been stunned shock and anger and crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And understandably so.

For me, I’ve just retreated into myself. Mostly because… I think things are going to be fine and people don’t want to hear that.

Let me get a few things out of the way:

1.  Hillary Clinton lost and there is nothing anybody can do about it.  I get that people are in denial, but they need to move on to other stages.  They need to STOP with this ridiculous notion that we can get the electors of the electoral college to change their mind.  NO. WE. CAN’T.  Trump’s electors are going to “vote” for Trump.  They won’t change their mind.  And you wouldn’t want them to, because that sets a precedent for ALL future elections.  And you can no longer talk about voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement when you try to pull off crap like that.

2.  There are lots of reasons that Hillary lost (Kevin Drum sums them all up here) but only one matters.  Yes, she was not the ideal candidate. Yes, the polls were wrong, and that probably includes her internal polls.  Yes, some Bernie douchebags held back.  Yes, the Comey letter stomped down Trump’s downward momentum from the Access Hollywood tape (and had the two events been reversed, Hillary would have won).  But she should have won by a lot — so much so that the Comey letter and its timing shouldn’t have made any difference.  And the ONE overarching reason she lost is because she took the white slightly-older lower middle class vote…. for granted. The perception of that demographic is this: the Democratic Party is the party of special interests.  Dems stand behind the Black Lives Matter people, Dems stand the LBGTQ community, and so on.  But many a white person (men AND women) who is struggling with their mortgage and who does not have job security is thinking, “Who has got MY back?”  The Democratic Party does, but we did a terrible job and messaging that, while Trump spoke directly to it.  So, even though they hated the things he said, they voted for Trump, particular in the Rust Belt — which is why Hillary lost Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Are those people bigots?  No.  Are they supporting bigotry, and racism, and misogyny by voting for Trump?  Some say yes.  Some say “By voting for Trump, you’re not saying you hate blacks, women, gays, etc. — but you ARE saying you don’t care about them.”  Which is bullshit.  It’s just that Trump was the only candidate who acted like he cared about THEM.  Meanwhile, those on the left were telling these voters how they enjoyed white privilege. And they do enjoy white privilege, but they don’t see it, they don’t feel it, and telling them that is just an aggressive dismissal of the very real economic fears that they have.

So let’s make this as clear as possible: this wasn’t a win for racism; this wasn’t a win for misogyny, this wasn’t a win for any of the horrible things that Trump is.  This is a win (and again, Hillary won the popular vote by around 1 million) for Trump because of economic insecurity by many white people in rural areas, coupled with, you know, the electoral college.

So next time around we have to listen to those people. We have to let them know that just because it is a big tent doesn’t mean that the Democrats ONLY care about minorities and subgroups and civil rights.  We can care about all people.

*****

With that out of the way, let me turn to the responses.

I’m down with the protests and all, but it is all kind of scattershot.  We hate Trump.  We hate the electoral college.  Got it.  Neither is going away.

The truth is, I have no fears of a Trump presidency.  I have apprehensions, but not fears.  I’ll explain that in a bit, but let me preface this by saying — this has nothing to do with my white privilege.  I get that as a reasonably well-off white guy, I’m going to be fine no matter what.  The thing is, I see very little (RIGHT NOW) that makes me concerned for anyone else either.

You see, here is something that the Bernie Bros and millennials didn’t understand during the primaries.  For all of Bernie’s pie-in-the-sky promises for what America could be under his brand of Democratic Socialism, it was never going to happen under a Sanders presidency. Why not?  Because the system is not designed for wild lurches to the left.

By the same token, the system is not designed to take wild lurches to the right. As MLK said, the arc of justice bends slowly — and, I suppose, the forces against justice can only bend it back slowly, if at all.

Same sex marriage, for example, is here to stay.  You have tens of thousand of married gay couples getting insurance, tax benefits, etc.  It’s just one of those toothpaste-y things that, once out, cannot be put back in the tube.

I also believe that abortion and Obamacare are pretty much that way as well.  Roe v Wade is established law, even among the conservatives and moderates on the Supreme Court.  Conservatives will try to chip away at it — they’ve been doing that for over 40 years, but the right to choose isn’t going to disappear over night.

And Obamacare?  They’ll get rid of parts of it, but not the things we like about it in the first place (like no pre-existing conditions).

And I suppose if you are an illegal alien who has committed a crime, your days are numbered… although that’s not a change AT ALL from the policies of the Obama Administration.

The presidency is one branch of government, and Trump is very malleable, especially when he is over his head.  He is not going to do drastic things, because he he’ll be stopped by Congress (yes, even a Republican one) and the Supreme Court.  Remember this: if the Trump Administration goes down in flames, the Republicans in charge of Congress who didn’t stop him go down with him.

Yes, I know he has Steve Bannon whispering in his ear, but he is one of many.  Trump’s appointment of Bannon to Chief Adviser (a meaningless title) doesn’t necessarily mean that alt-right will be the motivating ideology behind his presidency, but it cannot be ignored either. Besides, Bannon is about to learn the limitations of federal government. Bannon is an antisemantic white nationalist and hate monger, but what can he do?  Tell Trump to tell South Carolina to put up the confederate flag?  Most of the issues that Bannon cares about are moral issues (or, in his case, immoral issues) which can’t be legislated anyway even IF Congress goes along with him.  Which they won’t.

Again, I generally don’t have fears.  Just apprehensions.  We need to watch Bannon, watch Trump, and see what happens.

I expect the Trump presidency to be largely ineffective.  Why?  Because you have a very short time to move on big ideas.  Obamacare was the first thing Obama did right out of the box because there was only a short window to take advantage of his mandate in 2008.

Trump doesn’t even have a mandate and even if he did, he and his crew are going to spend that time walking the steep learning curve and making amateur mistakes.  Before anyone knows it, the 2018 midterms will be here.

There are really only two things that worry me:

(1)  Movement on climate change.  We cannot wait out four (and certainly not eight) years of doing nothing.  We are rapidly approaching the point of no return, assuming we haven’t passed it already.  My fervent hope is that Trump will take a look at it again. Again, he’s very malleable, and maybe someone can convince him that it is not a hoax.

(2)  Speaking of climate…. I fear the climate outside of D.C.  I’m talking about the Klan and the bigots and the assholes who think that, with a Trump presidency, their day has come.  It hasn’t, of course, and hopefully Trump will speak out (he muttered something just yesterday). He’s got to temper his rhetoric and not inflame the violent and racist side of his base.  In fact, he needs to come down on them.  I hope he can.

In the meantime, if anybody thinks it’s “okay” to be openly racist, we have to jump on that like fleas on a polecat.  Case in point:

Am I fearful of the Supreme Court balance?  I’m quite concerned. I hope the oldest on the Court can live another four years.  I hope Democrats in the Senate are able to block any terrible nominee, just as the Republicans blocked Garland.  But right NOW, all I have is apprehension.  I’m not ready to take to the streets over a theoretical nominee.

I wish everyone on the left would stop infighting and pointing fingers about the proper way to respond to Trump’s election.  I agree with some that symbolic safety pins are stupid, but I also think they are benign.  I also think that protests in the streets are stupid and maybe even counterproductive.  I understand it all though — people need to feel like they are DOING something.  Unfortunately, Trump hasn’t done much yet as President, so there’s little to react to.  This is a time to rest, to organize.  Because there may be a fight coming.

Right, Kate?

The First Test Should Be A Massive Infrastructure Bill

Trump promised it, Democrats have always loved it.  And Republicans hate it.

Trump promised a half-trillion dollar building program, about twice as much as even Hillary Clinton.  It certainly would put Americans to work (not that unemployment is a problem) AND more importantly, it is needed.

But will Trump get it?

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Will Republicans block him and risk the wrath of his supporters?  I’m betting some will.

The wedge will begin.  And if I’m wrong, then we get a nice infrastructure law.  Win-win.

Why Trump Won And Why The Kids Are Alright

I know, I know.  It feels like Christmas morning on death row.

I am sure the Interwebs contain its fair share of Wednesday morning quarterbacking about what went wrong, who’s to blame, etc. and what to do now.

I’m not going to offer anything different.  Probably nothing original (I haven’t read any post mortems yet). But here goes anyway.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

Russia didn’t hack us.

Voter suppression efforts – systemic and otherwise – don’t account for Trump’s victory.

Third party candidates and their voters are not to blame. (And no, Bernie would not have done better — he would have done worse).

It wasn’t dunderhead Comey’s glorious re-opening of a BS investigation either.

Let’s accept facts (because that’s what we do): the political system, albeit flawed here and there, worked the way it was supposed to.

Here’s my explanation in a nutshell: Donald Trump is the inevitable result of almost thirty years of government mistrust, cultivated by right wing media (AM radio, the fringes of the Internet), coupled with an inert mainstream media driven by ratings (or “clicks”) rather than journalistic values of revealing and presenting the truth. (UPDATE: to be clear, I think the media did just fine exposing Trump for who he is.  The problem is, much of the electorate didn’t care.  And the reason they didn’t care is because of failures of the media in the past with their false equivalences.  In other words — the media practiced journalism too little, too late)

[He also got lucky too.  I mean 60 percent of voters viewed him unfavorably, yet he got 15% of those voters to vote for him. 63 percent of voters said they didn’t think he had the “temperament” to be president, he got 20% of those voters to support him. 60 percent of voters said they didn’t think he was qualified to be president and yet 18 percent gave him their vote.

That’s a lot to digest, perhaps.  But I come at this from the perspective of someone who has been around for more than half a century — a person who has more yesterdays than tomorrows.

Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize the Republican Party today, but he laid the seeds of popular discontent.  He famously said: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  It was a glorious departure from the concept that we have a government of self-rule, i.e., that this is a government OF the people.  Reagan’s famous quote created — or certainly popularized — the notion that government was something OUTSIDE the populace — an alien entity imposed on the people, rather than working for the betterment of people.

To give him credit, I think Reagan was merely talking about government overreach — or Big Government as it was called — and not government as an institution.  But others, like Rush Limbaugh, latched on to the concept and starting in the mid eighties, “government” became a dirty word.

This derision was in full swing by the early 1990s.  Although politicians still debated the SIZE of government, there was an undertone growing that government of ANY kind was evil — a necessary evil (some would generously say), but an evil nonetheless.  And why?  Because the more government, the less freedom.  That was the rationale.

And it’s true.  Government denies you the freedom to kill other people, for example.  I use that example to demonstrate that freedom, in its purest form, is not all it is cracked up to be, and government is not only necessary, but a morally good thing.  But I digress.

So here were are thirty years later, and the myth of “government is bad” has soaked up into a population so cynical that most people have not only rejected government as an institution, but many other institutions as well.  Media.  Education.  Science.  Medicine.  To many people, they these things are simply…. bad.

During this time, there have been two kinds of Republicans: the cynical and disenchanted that I have already discussed, and those in power willing to take advantage of the cynical and disenchanted (for political or monetary gain).  And when you have those two elements, the cynical being mislead by the opportunistic, is it any wonder that Donald Trump emerges as a political force?

And if that’s too abstract for you, let’s turn to history.  Nazi propagandist Goebbels proved that if falsehoods were repeated often enough they became, in the minds of the ignorant and aggrieved, facts. He proved that the selection of a false enemy was essential as a target of aroused bigotry. That, too, required constant repetition to create the hated “other.” Although “the other” lived peaceably as a minority in the population it should be characterized as inimical to the interests of the majority.

Time for some Chomsky from 2010:

chom2010

It is too simplistic to say that Trump’s followers are all racist.  Racism definitely exists, and I could write an opus on its pervasiveness.  But what Trump followers really object to, if you want to describe most of them, is multiculturalism.  Objection to multiculturalism is what explained the Brexit vote by the way.  Aversion to multiculturalism doesn’t require out-and-out bigotry and hatred, but it does establish the “other” and blames the “other” for society’s ills.  Mexicans, Muslims, refugees from other countries — Trump played into those fears beautifully. He understands that even non-racists have misgivings — not hatred, but ill-defined concerns — of “the browning of America”.

And consider this: The Constitution was designed to benefit a rural agrarian society, which the country was at the time (and the Founding Fathers were almost all farmers). The Electoral College itself was designed to ensure regional balance.  The fear at the time was that by allowing the popular vote, the candidates from urban areas would always win.  But the Electoral College ensured that couldn’t happen, since every state (even ones without urban populations) get a proportional “say”.  Even today, there are many rural and small-state elites who fear that under a national popular vote system, they’d be ignored and elections would be decided by people who live in cities in an “urban power grab”.

That may be true, by the way.  But the Constitution’s “fix” of the Electoral College means that the individual voters in rural regions are given more power than they would have in a pure democracy where everyone’s vote is truly equal.

Think about it. In a presidential race, why should a voter living in Walkertown NC be of more interest to a presidential campaign than a voter living in Los Angeles?  She shouldn’t, but she clearly is — and the Electoral College makes it so.  You want to talk about a “rigged” system?  Well, if your goal is a PURE democracy, the Electoral College is where the “rigging” is.

A mobile society makes the need for the Electoral College obsolete.  Most of us are not individual farmers anymore.  Most of us can make a living anywhere nowadays.  And while there may be variances at the STATE and LOCAL level (roads and police), the NATIONAL needs of someone living in Los Angeles are pretty close to those of someone living in Walkertown NC.  We want to be protected from invasion/war.  We want an economy that works for us.  These are our main NATIONAL concerns.

In fact, the only thing that really separates “urban” and “rural” people in the 21st centuiry is their exposure to . . . here it comes . . . “the other”.  Who is less likely to be cool with multiculturalism?  People in rural areas, who are troubled by the presence of funny looking people from other places with their strange ways and odd language. Is it any wonder that a not-very-thinly-veiled white nationalist ideology resonates with them?  Especially on the heels of an African-American presidency?

And because of the Constitution, rural areas loom larger from an electoral perspective, while left-leaning urban centers carry less political weight.  That is why Trump wins the electoral vote, while Hillary wins the popular vote (when all votes are counted).

I suspect the majority of Americans do have a problem with the concept of multiculturalism, but it can make the difference in a close election.  Trump was catering to a white minority, still fearful (or confused or ignorant or hateful — pick your adjective, they all apply … depending) of people they don’t know/like/understand.

So there’s that . . . and trade (which if you think about closely, is also about multiculturalism as well).  We HAVE lost a lot of manufacturing jobs, which has served as the bread and butter of the non-college educated worker — male and female.  NAFTA had a lot to do with it, but — to be honest — so did mechanization.  The truth is — and I apologize for the wonkiness — we cannot compete with third world countries who can manufacture goods far more cheaply, unless workers here are willing to accept wages at $7 per hour or even lower.  And they can’t.  Our workers need to be trained for high-tech jobs (computer programming, etc.) and given the terrible condition of our education system, that isn’t going to happen.

So… in steps Trump.  A con man.  He either feels it himself, or he cynically exploits this populist discontent from rural areas and non-college educated demographics.  Either way, once you have distrust of institutions in your pocket, it doesn’t matter what other shortcomings you have.

I mean 60 percent of voters viewed him unfavorably, yet he got 15% of those voters to vote for him. 63 percent of voters said they didn’t think he had the “temperament” to be president, he got 20% of those voters to support him. 60 percent of voters said they didn’t think he was qualified to be president and yet 18 percent gave him their vote.  Think of that — millions of people voted for Trump even though they believed he was UNQUALIFIED!!

So of COURSE he does well in the GOP primary as the outsider non-institution candidate. And that carried over into the general.  I think that will be the judgment of history.

The problem for the Republicans (and the Rush Limbaughs and the Alex Jones and everyone who has built or exploited this machine of anti-institution cynicism) is that THEY OWN THIS NOW.  They’ll be no more blaming others, brown people, women, and the Clintons. Trump is not the “outside” change agent anymore.  He’s President of the United States — the ULTIMATE insider.

And like the dog who caught the car, now he has to DO something.  He has to deliver.  The wall.  Repeal healthcare and overnight make 20 million lose insurance. Getting rid of 11 million “illegals” (somehow).

Simply put, Trump has a yuge problem.  He can’t deliver on his promises.  And even if he could, people may find that they won’t like the result (Example: You want manufacturing to come back to America in big way?  Fine, but say goodbye to Walmart and Target.  You want a wall between US and Mexico?  Fine, but enjoy the retaliatory trade war.)

I won’t even begin to talk about how these people have voted against their interest.  This New Yorker cartoon, however, said it best:

cwyoyiwusaenmox

Anyway, since I’m almost there anyway, I need to turn to the future and talk about that.

It’s going to be rough for a while.  My hope is that the Supreme Court will see Trump for the historical aberration that he is, and justices like Roberts and Kennedy will act as a bulwark to drastic changes, even if we get some bad picks.

But I am also optimistic.  Just as the Renaissance came after the Dark Ages, like the fact that beautiful flora grow from piles of shit, like a phoenix rising from the ashes…. oh, let me come back down and say it simply: I think the next few years are going mark the last stand for a dying ideology and the dawn of American 3-point-oh.  Let me ‘splain.

Look, I came into my political cognizance in the 1980s, a decade marked by political apathy when it came to young people.  I don’t see that anymore, especially with the young people.  For my friends with children who worry about what to tell them, tell them this:

cw0wxbzuoaa0txo

That’s the electoral map this morning if only 18 to 24 year olds voted.  So you tell your kids that they are witnessing the death throes of a mindset that worships at the altar of fear and ignorance and hatred.  Tell them they are part of the a generation which has the potential — finally — to rid this country of the burdens of racism, sexism, and any and all of the other isms.

The youth of today (and even some older people) are about to get an education in what this country can be when the worst of human nature becomes normalized. It’s like we’ve planted a bug bomb under the sink, and all the cockroaches are scurrying out onto the kitchen floor.  It’s nasty as hell, but now the ugliness is out in the open where we can see it, point to it, and get rid of it.

I think the themes of this election season need to be the themes of our fight ahead.  Particularly these two:

(1) “Stonger, together” = embrace multiculturalism. In life. In art, In words. In deeds.

(2) “When they go low, we go high” = don’t engage in the tactics they engaged in (obstructionism, hate).

Trumpism will fail. And don’t think I’m like some pundits were, who WISHED Obama to fail. I don’t want to see any U.S. President fail.  But I am confident that Trump will.  And I like what comes afterward.  And that’s what we should tell our kids: “Watch this. Learn and remember”

And you tell the kids that in other countries, a change in leadership this drastic usually comes with a death toll.  Ultimately, the system works, even when it doesn’t in the short term.

And remember, what democracy does, it can also undo.  Roy Cooper was elected governor in a conservative state that went for Trump.  Why?  Because there are limits, even here.  Trump is one man.  The checks and balances of the Constitution (which he hasn’t read) work, and I don’t believe Trump knows about checks and balances yet.  In the meantime, we can start at the local level making the changes we want (which is what the Republicans have been doing for decades).

We’ll get through this.  I have faith in the system.  I have faith in the people of the country.  And, most of all, I have faith in the young people of today. Tell your kids that you have faith in them, too. Ultimately, they will get it right even if my generation failed.

Finally, enjoy the coming counterculture (did you know that the arts flourish in times like these?).  Enjoy getting involved.  As one person wrote recently, “Maybe it is time to be a little more punk, and a little less Dad rock.”  I think that applies to activism as well.

And by the way, we don’t have to respect a Trump presidency.  We don’t have to come together as a nation.  Progressives know how to respect the institution, while opposing those who run them.

History IS happening.  The adventure begins.

UPDATE:  It’s begun.  A spontaneous student walkout in Austin TX.  The kids are alright.

austin

Your Guide For Watching Election Returns

I actually hate election night.  You would think, for a political junkie like me, that watching the election returns would be the Super Bowl and the Tonys all wrapped together. But it’s not.  The night is long, even when it’s not.  And you have to listen to pundits and (worse) campaign surrogates being used as filler until something actually happens.  Bingo cards help.  Drinking games help.  Or just watching Howard Fineman pretend that Chris Matthews didn’t just accidentally project spittle on him — that’s sometimes amusing.  But generally, it is a slow night.

But…. we have to watch because it is history and all that.  So here’s what I’ve done.  If you’re anxious to watch and don’t want to stay up until the concession speech, I have prepared a handy dandy guide to reflect when *I* think the presidential race is *effectively* over.  If I’m right or even close (a huge assumption), then you can turn off the TV and go to bed, or watch something else.

So let’s begin.

First, we need to know when the polls close in each state.  Fortunately, Daily Kos did the work for me.

cwrj0y3uiaaes8s

In prognosticating the outcome, I will start from the assumption — based on the latest polling averages — that Hillary will win, i.e., she will meet the requisite 270 electoral votes.  What we need to look for, particularly early in the evening, are signs that this is NOT true and that she is NOT doing as well as the polls have predicted.

Now we’ll begin —

6:00 pm EST — Polls close in (most of) INDIANA and KENTUCKY

Bad-news-for-Hillary indicators:  None.  She’s not going to win these states.

Good-news-for-Hillary indicators:  None.

Notes: Really, it’s 6:00.  You shouldn’t even be watching now.  You’ll burn out.

7:00 pm EST — Polls closed in (the rest of) INDIANA and KENTUCKY, VERMONT, VIRGINIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, most of FLORIDA, some NEW HAMPSHIRE

Bad-news-for-Hillary indicators:  If they don’t announce Vermont for Hillary at or close to the top of the hour (say, by 7:15), that’s very bad.  It means something is seriously wrong with the poll models and/or Russia has hacked the election returns something serious.

Good-news-for-Hillary indicators:  If they announce Virginia before 7:30 for Hillary, it’s very good news. Probably means a landslide. Turn off the TV – she’s won.  (Don’t get your hopes up though.  It won’t happen.)

Notes: Florida is still the key.  If Trump cannot take Florida, he really has no path to victory (a phrase I’m really sick of).  Well, he DOES have a path, but it’s highly highly highly unlikely.  Now, I expect that the networks will not make their official Florida projections at 7:00, even though most of Florida’s polls will have closed.  They will wait until 8:00 when ALL of Florida’s precincts have closed.  However, to the extent that the news outlets talk about Florida and “early unofficial returns”, pay attention.  If it looks good for Trump, then all of Florida will probably go to Trump (since the counties that close at 8:00 are pro-Trump counties).  But if they give hints of heavy pro-Hillary votes — well, it still might mean a Trump win, but it’s less in-the-bag.

My bet is that Florida will be very close.  I don’t think we will know until after 11:00 at the earliest, and hopefully by then, the race will be decided.

7:30 pm EST — Polls closed in OHIO, WEST VIRGINIA, and NORTH CAROLINA

Bad-news-for-Hillary indicators:  If Ohio comes in quick for Trump (say, before 8:00), that’s a bad sign for HRC.  Ohio, like Florida, should be close and not come in until later.

Good-news-for-Hillary indicators:  Watch for North Carolina.  It’s a tie going into election day, but there has been so much early voting that I expect the state results to come in before 8:30 pm.  If it is Hillary, and we still haven’t heard from Florida or Ohio or Pennsylvania, you can ALMOST turn off the TV confident of an HRC victory.  If other “swing states” come in Hillary;s favor (especially Pennsylvania), it’s over for Trump.

In fact, here’s what to look for: North Carolina-Pennsylvania-Virginia.  If Hillary gets all three of those, it’s over (barring some bizarre upset somewhere else).  Trump can take Florida AND Ohio, and he still loses as long as Hillary has North Carolina-Pennsylvania-Virginia.

Notes:  Of course, the converse is true as well.  If North Carolina goes Trump, you can’t pop the HRC champagne yet.  Hillary had to win Florida or Ohio or a series of states further west.

8:00 pm EST — Polls completely closed in MAINE, NH, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, PA, MI, IL, MO, TN, AL, MS, TX, OK, KS, and some of both of the DAKOTAS

Bad-news-for-Hillary indicators:  NH still a tossup by 9:00 pm.; PA still a tossup by 10:00pm

Good-news-for-Hillary indicators:  Networks call it for NH at or near 8:00 pm.  Same with Pennsylvania — the earlier it gets called for Hillary, the better for her overall.  Of course, as I said before, if she’s already taken North Carolina and Virginia, then a call from Pennsylvania effectively clinches it  (not mathematically, but in terms of probability)

Notes:  Lot of safe states come in starting at 8:00 pm for both candidates.  Hillary gets some New England and mid-Atlantic states.  Trump, of course, gets the deep South. Don’t freak at the slew of Trump wins in the South –it’s inevitable. In addition to keeping your eye on Florida (toss-up), Ohio (should go Trump), Virginia (should go Hillary) and NC (toss-up), watch the industrial midwest states.  Those with large urban centers (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan) should go to Hillary without dragging it out too long — say within 1.5 hours of closing (i.e., before 9:30).

8:30 pm EST — Polls closed in ARKANSAS

Notes: Same marching orders as before

9:00 pm EST — Polls closed in NEW YORK, WISCONSIN, MINNESOTA, LOUISIANA, NORTH and SOUTH DAKOTA, NEBRASKA, COLORADO, WYOMING, NEW MEXICO and ARIZONA

Notes:  Although a lot of states come in, most of them will be of no interest.  Only Colorado, Wisconsin, and New Mexico are relevant, and they’ll only be of interest if Hillary has not shored up the North Carolina-Pennsylvania-Virginia triad of victory.  Meaning this: If she has two of those three states, she should still be okay if she takes Wisconsin, Colorado and New Mexico – and they are pretty solid blue this year.

Hillary made a play for Arizona this week.  I don’t think she’s going to get it.  But it might be entertaining to see if she does, if you’re still watching at this point.

10:00 pm EST — Polls closed in IOWA, MONTANA, UTAH, NEVADA and some IDAHO

Notes:  Same marching orders as before.  Iowa may be an upset state for Hillary but don’t bet on it.  Nevada might be interesting to watch too.  But basically, all the “at play” states are in at this point, and your focus should still be on the returns of the East Coast and Midwest states.

11:00 pm EST — Polls closed in CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON, OREGON, HAWAII, and the rest of IDAHO

Notes:  Okay. if it gets to be 11:00 pm and Hillary still hasn’t won it, you can be officially concerned.  Again, I don’t think these new states are going to have a role in the results, although California might “officially” make Hillary the winner if it was close.  But we should have a victor by 11:30 and the ONLY reason to stay up at this point is to see victory speeches and/or whether or not a concession speech is made.

12:00 am EST — Polls closed in ALASKA

Notes:  Seriously, go to bed.  Whatever has happened, has happened.  Can’t do anything about it now.

SENATE RACES TO WATCH

It really is a big deal whether or not Democrats will win back the Senate.

The races to watch there are:

FLORIDA: Rubio(R) v Murphy(D)
INDIANA: Young(R) v Bayh(D)
MISSOURI: Blunt(R) v. Kandor(D)
NEVADA: Heck(R) v Cortez Masto(D)
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Ayotte(R) v Hassan(D)
NORTH CAROLINA: Burr(R) v Ross(D)
PENNSYLVANIA: Toomey(R) v McGinty(D)
WISCONSIN: Johnson(R) v Feingold(D)

These are all truly toss-ups, and because we’re talking about Senate races, there is less polling.  And the whole question of whether Republicans who dislike Trump will split tjhe ticket or show up at all blah blah blah.

HOUSE RACES TO WATCH

Yeah, nobody cares.  I’ll be watching one though:

NEBRASKA 2nd: Bacon(R) v. Ashford(D)(incumbent)

BALLOT MEASURES TO WATCH

Marijuana (recreational, 21+):

Arizona Prop 205
California Prop 64
Maine Question 1
Massachusetts Question 4
Nevada Question 2

Marijuana (Medical):

Arkansas Issue 6
Florida Amendment 2
Montana Initiative I-182
North Dakota Measure 5

Gun Control:

California Prop 63 (large magazine ammunition magazine ban)
Maine Question 3 (background checks for all gun sales/transfers)
Nevada Question 1 (gun sales only through licensed dealers – some exceptions)
Washington Initiative 1491 (authorizing courts to issue extreme risk protection orders to remove an individual’s access to firearms)

Weird or Unusual

California Prop 60 (porn actors must wear condoms during filming)
California Prop 61 (advising state legislators to overturn Citizens United through amendment to U.S. Constitution)
California Prop 67 (ban on plastic shopping bags)
Maine Question 5 (when voting for state and local leaders, voters rank them in order of preference, then have runoffs)

The Hillary Clinton Paradigm

Courtesy of the Rolling Stone, this is how it works:

You start with the assumption that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.

After all, there have been whispers and accusations and investigations and allegations and scandals with ominous names like WHITEWATER and BENGHAZI for years. Even if you can’t describe exactly what she’s done wrong, there must be something to all these stories, right?

And if she’s corrupt, then we definitely need to investigate her. Virtually everything she does is suspect. Any mistake she makes can’t simply be an accident or a lapse in judgment; there must be some criminal intent behind it. It doesn’t matter how many millions of taxpayer dollars or thousands of man-hours it takes in FBI investigations and congressional hearings. No price is too high.

And when you investigate endlessly, you find evidence. Emails and documents and memos and call logs and testimony. It adds up to thousands of pages, millions of words, piles of binders that make the perfect dramatic prop in a hearing room.

And we know all those documents must be suspicious. After all, they appeared because there was an investigation into corruption, so they must be evidence of something. Plus, there are just so darn many of them.

And with all that suspicious evidence, the conclusion is clear: Hillary Clinton is corrupt. And if she’s corrupt, we have to investigate her. And if we investigate her, we’ll uncover evidence. And if we find evidence, it must be suspicious. So she must be corrupt. So we have to investigate her.

And on and on it goes. For decades.

It’s also known as the Perjury Trap.  If you have enough investigations, then you can get her to testify under oath and maybe — just maybe — she’ll say something incorrect.  Doesn’t matter what: the weather, whatever.  Sure, maybe she was mistaken.  Or maybe her recollection is bad.  But if she is wrong, you can call it a LIE and maybe even PERJURY.  Then you can IMPEACH her.

This will be the next four years.

The Very Uneventful 2016 Election

Yeah. I was in Europe for a couple of weeks.  They weren’t following the election as much as I thought they might have been.  And so I took a break from it too.  I can’t remember what was going on when I left, but it sure was big and sure isn’t a headline now.  I think it was about how Donald Trump had denied groping women and then a parade of them were coming forward saying how they were groped or kissed without consent.

Then there was, last Friday, another BOMBSHELL (the media’s word) which, at first blush, seemed like the FBI was going to look into more emails that they had discovered on Anthony Weiner’s shared computer with Huma Abedin (a Hillary Clinton aide).  In other words, it WAS a bombshell — a shell without a bomb.  On closer examination, it turned out to be just what it LOOKED like — nothing (at this point).  Apparently, if you can create a headline with the word “Clinton” and “email” in close proximity, that is enough to send the media into apoplectic fits, even if there is no actual email contents to report on.

I am reminded about what I heard last week, and heard again today.  Despite the crazy rollercoaster of news and constant scandals and non-scandals, this is STATISTICALLY a rather dull election.  Since the conventions, Hillary has been roughly 5 points ahead of Trump, give or take 5 points.  That means she has been close to even and sometimes has a double digit lead.  But Trump really has never held a secure lead…. not once.   In fact, while Hillary cannot get below 42%, Trump cannot get above it.

And it is worse when you switch from the popular vote to the electoral college.  Clinton has a thick blue line: all the New England states, NY, PA, DE, MD, VA, and DC.  And to that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and the Pacific Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii) and you have a total of 249 SOLID BLUE electoral votes.  With only 270 needed.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

That’s how lopsided this thing is.  Hell, a win in Florida puts her on top.

But she has significant leads in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

At the end of the day, this is Clinton’s election.  And what you’re hearing now is a lot of wind and drama.  The Cook Political Report:

However, despite the recent tightening, Trump remains behind in the polls. And, his path to 270 electoral votes remains decidedly and almost impossibly narrow. Polling taken over the weekend suggests that voters are reacting to the FBI story in a typically partisan manner. Could it have an impact on enthusiasm? Perhaps. And, it also could get reluctant GOPers to show up to cast a vote for down ballot GOPers to give a “check” on Clinton. But, it hasn’t upended the normal pattern/trajectory of the campaign.

The most recent polls suggest that Trump’s best chances to flip a state Obama carried in 2012 are Iowa, Ohio and Florida. Even so, North Carolina — a state Romney carried in 2012 — is looking tougher and tougher for Trump. Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado also look out of reach. Without North Carolina or Pennsylvania, it is almost impossible for him to hit 270.

The Trump campaign remains hopeful that the Rust Belt — with its white, working class voters — will be their savior. The Trump campaign says they have polling showing a tight race in Michigan as does the Survey Monkey 50-state survey. All other polling taken in the state shows Clinton with a pretty healthy lead. Democrats aren’t panicking there either, suggesting they feel confident in the numbers they are seeing.

At the end of the day, the map may not look all that different from what we are used to seeing. But the margins of victory may be the more surprising. In blue states where the white working class vote is more significant — Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin — the Democratic share of the vote is likely to be smaller than we’ve seen in the last eight years. But, in red states that are more diverse — Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina — the GOP margin is likely to be narrower than we’ve seen in recent years.

***

Bottom Line: The race has tightened to its “natural resting place” with a 2-4 point lead for Clinton. However, the Electoral College math continues to favor Clinton. While she may lose Obama-held states in the Midwest like Ohio and Iowa, she’s been able to build up a pretty solid lead in states that Trump needs to win to hit 270 like Virginia and Pennsylvania. At the end of the day, voters are well-aware of the two less than ideal choices in front of them. They don’t trust Clinton. But, they don’t think that Trump has the temperament or judgment to be president. Baring any new or indictable information, it’s hard to believe that these new batch of emails will change this calculation.

Trump’s campaign managers seem to know that the math is not in their favor.  They are gambling on a “second tier” win — giving up on Pennsylvania, and buying ads in New Mexico and hitting Michigan hard.